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Introduction to Procedure in Family Law Litigation: Part I

Family law cases in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Family Branch; the Ontario Superior Court of Justice; and the Ontario Court of Justice are governed by the Family Law Rules (Family Law Rules, Rule 1(2)).

Rule 2(2) of the Family Law Rules outlines that the primary objective of these Rules is to “enable the court to deal with cases justly.” Dealing with a case justly includes:

  • (a) ensuring that the procedure is fair to all of the┬áparties;
  • (b) saving expense and time;
  • (c) dealing with the case in ways appropriate to its importance and complexity; and,
  • (d) giving appropriate court resources to the case while taking account of the need to offer resources to other cases.

Rule 2 continues that judges must “promote the primary objective by active management of cases”, including helping parties identify the issues, encouraging alternative dispute resolution, helping parties to settle, setting timetables and controlling the progress of a case.

Under the Family Law Rules, cases are started by an Application if there has never been an order made on the issues before the court. If a previous court order has been made on the issues before the court, they are started by Notice of Motion to Vary.

According to Rule 8(3) of the Family Law Rules, an Application may contain:

  • 1. A claim against more than one person; and,
  • 2. more than one claim against the same person.